Sunday November 1 2020
Inter's Real problem

After Inter’s problematic draw with Parma, Richard Hall speaks with Spanish football journalist Graham Hunter about the upcoming game against Real Madrid.

The La Liga TV host eloquently explains about the threat posed by Antonio Conte’s former teammate, Zinedine Zidane.

Parma director Marcello Carli spoke before the game against Inter and said that his team were simply “happy to be here.” Covid had, like for so many Italian clubs, swept through his squad with ease. Carli declared that he they would not use this an excuse and they certainly did not. Parma played with a youthful energy even though it was the veteran Gervinho grabbed a brace. The away side took Inter to task, exposed the lack of pace in the back line and smirked as the Nerazzurri missed chances.

This was not a night for excuses. Inter may have drawn the game 2-2 after Ivan Perisic grabbed a late equaliser but the facts were clear. “It’s not the first game we dominated and yet almost lost. If you don’t score goals in football, you don’t win,” Conte told Sky Sport Italia. He was right, Inter made chances and took none of them, they created 26 attempts on goal in comparison to Parma’s six, it was a story that had been seen before.

“It happened with Borussia Monchengladbach too, Shakhtar Donetsk never had a shot on goal, but we still don’t win games that we dominate.” Conte’s mind had already moved to the game against Real Madrid in the Champions League. The Italian press are billing this double header as a ‘do or die’ affair and the Inter coach knows it. There is a sense of foreboding about this tie; there is little talk of Conte losing his job, so why does this feel so critical.

To understand where the threats lie with Madrid and where the perhaps Inter could find an angle, we spoke to Spanish football journalist, author and commentator, Graham Hunter. We posed a very simple two part question to Graham, firstly we wondered what the coverage before the game was like in Spain in comparison to Italy and more importantly, how Zidane would potentially prepare for this game as his approach to the games against Shakhtar and Borussia Monchengladbach had been arguably insular. Conte’s strategy being ultimately predictable would perhaps provide opportunity for preparation.

When you speak with Graham you do not just get an answer, you get an invitation into a window of Spain. Like Quantum Leap, you feel that like Sam Beckett, you have been transported very briefly to Madrid. This is important, as the answer for the initial question was surprising. The Spanish press, or Madrid press, (up until Friday) had spoken very little about Inter. Even an interview with Fabio Capello in one of the papers simply had a one-liner about the fixture. Graham surmised that, understandably, the most important thing to talk about in Madrid is Real and that in modern times this is becoming more and more normal. Yes, they had coverage about some of the golden fixtures against Monchengladbach but before Inter, nobody is writing about Conte.

“He is regarded with respect, fascination and horror,” Graham’s thoughts on the Nerazzurri ‘mister’ perhaps go hand in hand with how all of Italy view the explosive coach. Former teammate of Zidane the battle will be an intriguing one but when I posed the question of whether Zidane would be too focused on his own side than to prepare for Inter, the response was interesting. It has seemed that Shakhtar, Borussia and Inter were arguably all very predictable in set up and style and it perhaps would be negligent from Zidane only to focus on Madrid but don’t be fooled.

Whilst Graham accepts that whilst Zidane may not spend time focusing on tactically dissecting the opposition, he will make changes and adapt to certain teams. The situation with Madrid is that they can adapt from a common 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 or an irregular 4-2-3-1, they are interchangeable but also somewhat predictable. The examples Graham gives about Karim Benzema dropping deep, Luka Modric attempting to put out fires all over the pitch and Marcelo frankly doing what he wants are commonplace but it does offer unpredictability. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this Madrid side is the faith they have in the coach and the faith that he shows the players. According to the La Liga TV commentator, even when James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale were destined to leave, they still got minutes. Zidane has set up a culture of meritocracy and it pays off.

Looking at the positives for the Nerazzurri, there are areas to look at. Eden Hazard is unlikely to be able to play 180 minutes. It will no doubt be an attacking formation, they are a “play it as you see it team,” this will allow Inter some room to use their typical pressing, aggression and counter attacking prowess. Graham certainly things Inter have the means to cause Madrid problems as they are easy to run past and do not play with pace.

There is certainly one area where Zidane may be able to gain an advantage on Conte and this is a very severe warning from Mr Hunter. Watch out for thee Frenchman’s substitutions. Before the Borussia Monchengladbach, Real had played eight games and in all of these games, a substitute or substitutes had either scored of assisted. Even against Borussia Modric came on and his third last touch was vital. This certainly could be an area where Madrid utilise their squad to the maximum.

Conte will continue to bemoan that Inter need to be clinical, he is right; they create chances but simply are not converting. Perhaps the stage is set for Lautaro Martinez to showcase himself in front of the Spanish media? Even without the cynicism, it will take more than this. Quite simply Inter will need to be the best version of themselves to beat Real Madrid. The Spanish side are by no means invincible but they are an intelligent and savvy team who are making the best of their resources. Conte and Inter need to do exactly the same.


(Thanks to Graham Hunter for his time and insight)

Have your say...
...&, Because I know another biased "Milan Fan" will mention Mancini handball in that game,:
Mancini jumped for that ball vertically --ONLY vertically.
Ibra jumped up & TOWARDS Mancini, CRASHING INTO GIANLUCA (and also elbowing him).

Yes, Mancini handled the ball.., but only after (or because) Zlatan fouled him. So, Giacomelli correctly saw it as a foul. (Though he incorrectly gave Ibra a yellow..!)

Makes sense when you are not biased, right? :)
on the 4th November, 2020 at 1:23am
@Bunga2(another delusional Milan fan??),

Against Udinese it was a legit penalty. Udine player got to ball FIRST.
A lot of Milan fans are so biased they only see that Alessio touched the ball... But milliseconds before, PUSSETTO hit it!
HE got it. The fact Romagnoli then touched it is irrevelant.
Rewind the foul, but DON'T LOOK AT ROMAGNOLI. Watch Pussetto.
It's a fair Udinese penalty.

& Don't even mention Roma game as Milan there also got a non-existent penalty!
on the 4th November, 2020 at 1:07am
You assume that if the penalty was awarded inter would win 3-2. The game was not at 2-2 at that moment. Maybe they would have missed the penalty, and even if Inter scored on the penalty it still could have ended 2-2.
on the 2nd November, 2020 at 7:58pm
One thing is that the refrees are terrible. It is a lot worse that we play worse than last year. The defence is a joke. Every time the opposition crosses the half line I am scared. And it may seem that we create a lot, but there are max half chances. We had the first shot on goal after 65 mins against Genoa. We made a step back since last year. Easy to blame the refs, and probably would have a few more point if there were better. But we are not better than them. Conte is hopeless
on the 2nd November, 2020 at 6:50pm
Inter's Problem is simple: how can they build a winning cycle WITHOUT CALCIOPOLI ! in the last 30 years their only winning cycle came at the expense of Juventus - now they have to outsmart their competitors with a coach they cannot afford to fire who at Juventus in CL did this: Year 1 - CL QF Year 2 - Round of 16 Year 3 - relegated to EL and out in you see the trend? let's apply to Inter: Year 1 - CL relegation to EL final Year 2: last in Group Year 2: Qualify for EL ... HAHAHAHAHAH
on the 2nd November, 2020 at 6:29pm
Who edits this crap?
on the 2nd November, 2020 at 9:34am
@ Bunga - very true, but if the penalty was awarded, as it should have been and Inter won 3-2 this would be considered 'winning while not @100%' all successful sides have these games but these opportunities are usually taken away from Inter. Expect Inter to be given a few soft pens soon in games they have already won so people can say 'Inter get dodgy calls too' but where are the points? Good luck to all.
on the 2nd November, 2020 at 8:32am
I did not want Conte, but Inter have to stick with him now until the end of the season. Then Inter can see what manager is available for the change. There will also be the young talent for sale that emerges this season going cheap as clubs are unable to pay wages. This was always going to be a strange season, lets just wait and see how it pans out, only 1/6 of the season has elapsed yet in Seria A.
on the 2nd November, 2020 at 8:27am
After the refereeing fiasco that was the EL final. I will be supporting all clubs who have Spanish opposition in Europe. The Continental referees follow the Spanish refereeing rulebook and while this continues (allowing blatant diving etc.) the problem will continue. Roll on the super league at least it should standardise these problems, and VAR also.
on the 2nd November, 2020 at 8:20am
What is a joke is that other refereeing mistakes get punished but for inter so far it’s jist a human error. The refs that were involved in the Milan-Roma and Juve - Crotone both got punished for their obvious mistakes but so far for inter with more incidents from refs not a single ref even got a warning meaning it’s ok to make a mistake for inter but not for others. The FACT is refs decisions do make a difference no matter how good/bad a team plays.
on the 2nd November, 2020 at 7:11am
If Udinese's & Roma's penalties was dubious. The same must be said about Milans penalties vs Bologna, Inter & Roma. Milan & Inter fans = Cry babies
on the 2nd November, 2020 at 4:19am
Considering we have only lost 1 game, that mistake has cost us 3 points on many occasions and had the right decisions been made, we would likely be top or near to in both CL and serie a. Then the pressure on the team is completely different. That is why it is frustrating! But need to keep faith, performances are worthy of wins, our luck has to eventually stop going against us every game!!
on the 2nd November, 2020 at 4:13am
you are right, can't continue to create so many chances and not score. Way too many easy chances missed every week. However saying this, that is football and likely the luck will change. At least we are constantly creating. And I don't want to complain about refereeing, but rizzoli coming out and saying it was a clear error that should have been a pen? Yes milan v roma was a shocker, but that is 1 game, there has been a bad call against us in all but 1 game this season.
on the 2nd November, 2020 at 4:10am
Inter's real problem: they're Inter.
on the 2nd November, 2020 at 12:18am
Dude you said it yourself, 86 goal scoring opportunities and only 7 goals to bring home isnt a good return. Instead of forever yapping about penalties, fix those conversion rate first. Milan also penalised for two dubious calls against us (vs Roma and Udinese last night), but we march on. Best of luck vs Madrid!
on the 1st November, 2020 at 11:59pm
This is a tough one to call.

RM are at their weakest in years, but Inter are totally unreliable, especially in Europe.

But after 3 points between them after two games apiece, both need to be winning at least once in this double header. Whomever picks up only 0-1 points will be in serious trouble.

Conte is on huge money, and it's time be earned it in Europe.

And if they do get knocked out in the group, they can always blame Juventus because Zidane used to play for them.
on the 1st November, 2020 at 11:56pm
Inter has been the better team in every game they have played this season yet dropped so many points. In last 5 games, 86 scoring opportunities created for 7 goals is not good enough. Sounds like an excuse but the refereeing has been a joke. Every call goes against us. Again a penalty isnt given that should have been, we would have likely won. Same for Shakhtar game just to name 2. Good on Marotta for calling it out, time to take a stand against it.
on the 1st November, 2020 at 10:03pm
The real team of Milano says hi... BO-HU
on the 1st November, 2020 at 6:34pm
I wanted to point at something happening in Serie A, Rubentus have a new coach with zero experience,, he needs quite some time to get going, Inter are almost ready to win. This cannot be, therefore .. there was huge refereeing "mistakes" in each and every game for Inter lately, against them.. and this will continue. Nothing new, nothing we haven't seen before..
on the 1st November, 2020 at 4:18pm
Conte is Inter's real problem, negative, always makes excuses. Moans about transfers, leans towards an older recruitment, no long term version and unable to make it happen in the immediate unless starting with a complete squad i.e Juve and Chelsea. They'd do well to get Allegri or Poch both have long term goals and can progress. Conte always seems to regress, or walk out. Overrated manager, I hope he never managers Azzurri again. He's not a winner.
on the 1st November, 2020 at 1:57pm

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